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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: The battle for … right guard?

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> Followers of the local football club are fretting about right guard, where Tony Hills, a not-very-good tackle, has suddenly worked his way into the mix with Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky.

Yeah, really.

Your team is pretty good when that’s your big camp duel.

>> I’ll be at Heinz Field tonight for the preseason game with the NFL’s curiously self-proclaimed “Dream Team,” the Eagles. I have to wonder: Does that dream include a first Super Bowl?

>> Sidney Crosby’s health is in question, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. Check Joe Starkey’s column this morning for more, but suffice it to say here that Crosby is not exactly in tight communications with much of anyone these days.

Now, that’s obviously open to interpretation. But it isn’t the norm for 87.

>> Jose Tabata, all excited to be in right field, told our Rob Biertempfel that he’d like to ask the Clemente family if he could wear No. 21, even if it was just for a day.

I’ll save him the dime: When I met with Vera and Luis Clemente in Phoenix last month, Vera told me that, in their proposal they plan to take to Major League Baseball, any player wishing to wear No. 21 must “earn it.” And she spoke that firmly.

No way, Jose. The sentiment is wonderful. Really is. But no.

>> Our weekly chat is today at noon, though you can begin posting entries at 6 a.m. After that, I’ll talk to you all from the big bowl of mustard.


  1. Pig Legs Robinson says:

    If it was me, I’d ask to wear 2112.

  2. OneTimer says:

    By several reports, Crosby was in Santa Monica Ca. this week meeting with Pat Brisson, his agent. The two were photographed together by fans at a Irish Pub.

    He was later spotted on the beach and at a farmers market with a girl. Could be he is just enjoying a final California vacation before camp???/

  3. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    This response is to something Wilver wrote at the end of the game thread from last night, and I want to make sure he doesn’t miss it, so I’m reposting …

    Brushed it off? Really? With an answer that long and detailed?

    It might not have been the answer you sought, but I didn’t brush anything off, to say the least.

    This is what I’m saying, to put it in plainer language: Nobody, nobody, nobody adds guaranteed salary on top of bonuses for the purpose of ranking these things. I have in front of me Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, the most respected journal in the sport, and it lists Washington’s bonuses for Strasburg as $7.5M and Harper as $6.25M. Again, that’s not semantics. It’s fact. It might not be how you’d prefer to see it listed, but it’s fact.

    Here’s something else: The fact that Boras agreed to a minor-league contract while knowing full well that the next handful of guys in the first round would get guaranteed deals should tell you plenty. Boras thinks, as does the player, that he’ll get paid more by taking this route. They might be wrong, they might be right.

    Finally, none of this really has much to do with the general premise of my column, which was strictly about dollar count. I didn’t mention — even though I could have — that both Cole and Bell probably will cost a lot more than you usual young players once they make it to Pittsburgh. Never factored in a dime. And that, as you cite, is because not another dime was guaranteed.

  4. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    What if game.

    But Tabata having an injury plagued season and missing significant time certainly didn’t help the Pirates chances. He was hampered with some nagging injuries before he went on the DL and then went out for about a month and a half.

    Good player, who is capable of a lot more in the coming years.

  5. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I’ll also be at Heinz Field for the big preseason tilt.

    Deciding whether to go with the Mortty Ivy or Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith jersey.

  6. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I think the Pirates will get enough offense from Tabata, McCutchen and Presley if they want to go with that outfield for next year.

    The speed/range is going to be tremendous defensively but even offensively they’re going to hit a lot of extra-base hits (doubles and triples) and I think more HRs than expected if they’re all healthy for a full season.

    I would spend the money somewhere else and leave the outfield alone.

  7. leefoo says:

    DaveDigs……..I hear the Sweed jersey can be had cheap. :)

  8. leefoo says:

    “if they’re all healthy for a full season.”

    Makes you wonder what THIS season would’ve been like if everyone had stayed healthy.

  9. JAL says:

    JAL’s All Shook Up Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3-Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

  10. JAL says:

    13 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Craig’s homers help Cards avoid sweep

    Pujols downplays milestone, takes swipe at detractors

    14 North Shore Sun

    Greatest Athlete #2: A storybook journey to the major leagues for Osik

    15 Beaver County Times

    Perrotto: For Bucs, $13 million goes long way


    16—PBC Site

    Home sweep eludes Pirates once more

    Jones getting opportunity to prove worth

    Times have changed as Reds, Pirates reconvene

    17 Sports Fan Live

    Bucs Brass Backs Up Belief With Big Bucks

    18 Bleacher Report

    50 Nuttiest Personalities in MLB History

  11. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    1-Behind the Steel Curtain

    Pittsburgh Steelers Preseason: Five Players to Watch in Thursday Night’s Tilt Against Philadelphia Eagles

    2-Steeler Gab

    First Preseason Home Game For Steelers Features the NFL’s New “Dream Team”

  12. dcpinpgh says:

    The Clemente should let Tabata rock the “21”. Friday this year, and every year on Roberto’s b-day. The condition is that he has to wear multiple uniforms that day. Tabata can keep one, Pirates charities gets atleast one, and the Clemente foundation gets a couple. Auction them off and help out little kids. I was born after Roberto, but from everything I have heard about him, he would want to help out the kids. This would get national attention and hopefully that attention would bring in more money to help out more kids.

  13. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks for responding, DK. I’m not going to argue about it, and I do see a little better where you are coming from if that’s how it’s listed in BA, etc. I was actually going from what I thought was listed in the PG (and talked about by the Pirates), both when you were there and since. As I mentioned, I thought Pedro’s number, another Boras client, that was talked about almost always included the total deal (6mil+). (Maybe the “major league contract made it different?) The numbers that were floated pre-draft signing day for Strasburg and Harper that I saw (which of course you can’t control) always included the total amounts, not just the bonuses. The clubs, of course (and the agents for that matter) be it the Bucs, Nats or Yankees, are always going to use the number that makes them look best. Nothing wrong with that. I am just trying to compare apples to apples. And I get that Boras is doing what he can to get what he and his clients think are the best deals, which I also have no problem with.

    I probably could have used a better term than “brush off,” since you obviously did respond at length, and I wasn’t trying to attack you. What I was trying to say was you seemed to treat the idea of the total guaranteed money as unimportant, which from what you say, I guess it is in MLB.

  14. Arriba Wilver says:

    Forget about all that dollars and cents stuff, it’s more just a mental exercise. What’s important to me about the draft this year is not that they signed their top pick (almost everyone does) or spent the most in bonus money (it’s the same amount spent on one year for one premier player), but that they got two first round picks when they signed Bell (and learned from the Sano experience), and they signed every one of their top 10 picks. That’s impressive.

  15. JMB says:

    Yeah AW, NH has proven that he needs two first round draft picks each year to lessen the odds that one of them wont be a bust. This year we might actually have acq’d at least one great player for the future!

  16. JMB says:

    RE: Tabata

    “My wish is to one day ask (the Clemente) family if I can wear that number for at least one day. I am so proud to play the same position as my hero.”

    The key words are WISH & ONE DAY. I hope for his/our sake that “one day” his “wish” seems to be within the realm of possibility.

    If he becomes the “Baby Manny” he was hyped to be, he may earn the right to rock the 21 for one day in the future. Of course, the real Manny had plenty of enhancement aiding his legend…

  17. DanW says:

    I think the 21 should either be retired or not, and not leave it up to some award process to decide who can wear it. Otherwise what happens when a Clemente award winner who “earns” the number does something dishonorable (like getting banned from baseball for gambling as the 1976 winner did)?

  18. SouthSideBucsFan says:

    Would it be dumb for the Pirates to do a “Roberto Clemente Day” where every player on the team wore a throwback No. 21 jersey to honor him? I’m thinking something along the lines of what MLB does for Jackie Robinson Day. I love Jose’s enthusiasm for wearing the number, but he can’t be the only one on the team that feels that way — think Neil Walker might be interested, for example?

    So I ask again: Would it be a bad idea to do something like that? Do you think the Clementes would be open to the idea?

    DK: Not in favor. Only one No. 21 for the Pirates, now and forever. Plus, it takes pressure off MLB to retire it across the board.

  19. Naje says:

    @ DK –

    Right guard…? That stuff stinks.

  20. Elle says:

    @ SouthSideBucsFan — Or if Mrs. Clemente says no, then maybe have a Willie Stargell day — I ordinarily don’t like the constant living-in-the-past thing to which we Pittsburghers are so inclined, but I admire Tabata’s idea and the reason behind it. It is a way to make sure these guys understand that they play for a once-proud franchise that is rekindling that pride. Many of us are old enough to remember the Fam-a-Lee. Oh, man, what a great time that was!

  21. Naje says:

    @ DK –

    Reading more about the Crosby issues, there’s a lot of smoke around the problem right now. From the rumors of nerve damage, etc, to the setbacks in training, to the mis-treatment/diagnosis early on…. this is all troubling.

    Looking back on this injury and the set-backs he’s had in training, is Jan. 1 a realistic date for his return to the ice?

    It seems that the worst concussions are taking a year or more to recover, of course depending on the player. But you look at some of the examples cited in Starkey’s column and look at a Justin Mourneau… when you have as bad a concussion as some of these guys, it may well be better to rest for a year with limited training and working out, rather than resting for a short period and trying to resume the work outs and such.

    DK: No one knows, plain and simple.

  22. JoeBucco says:

    For the true collectors out there, some game used Indy Indians jerseys are up for auction. Get your Alex Presley now, or maybe a Pedro Ciriaco… :)

  23. pghboyinca says:

    Here is to hoping that in the not too distant the main discussion topics on any Pirate blog will be about the product on the field at PNC and not about what an accomplishment it is to sign our draft picks.

    How many other major league baseball teams and their fan bases think of signing draft picks as an accomplishment? Has the bar been set that low? I have to laugh that it has become a “gotcha ya” topic for supporters of the fornt office that soemhow this shows prowess and a willingness to be competitve finanacially.

    This is a great draft day and the team opened the coffers to spend what was necessary to bring two huge talents into the fold. They shold be recognized for that in a proportionate manner. However I still don’t see a firt basemna, Shortstop or any hitting for the next 3 or so years. Hopefully that gets addressed next so that the culture changes and hte team gets some credibility back. It is timeto see some sustained progress at PNC, next year is year 5 for this regime and it is time to see the MLB product improve. This is n longer Littlefields team, own it Neal and Frank!!!

  24. JoeBucco says:

    I hope we don’t hear about any Tabata trade rumors or anything like that anytime in the next several years. It’s so refreshing and rare to find a guy that is good, and wants to be in Pittsburgh – we need to keep those guys around.

  25. SouthSideBucsFan says:


    I’m partial to the Dusty Brown one, myself.

  26. Pattonbb says:

    Tim Wood to the Rangers for cash or that ever popular PTBNL.

  27. JAL says:


    Don’t know how many but I do know the Washington Nationals thought that about signing Strasburg and Harper. Probably teams going no where look to the draft to pull them up in a few years. Fans of teams like Red Sox and Yankees don’t pay much attention to the draft because their teams are very good. They pay more attention to FA signings.

  28. SouthSideBucsFan says:

    Frankly, I’m stunned we could even get that.

    But, wait! You can now get a Tim Wood Indy jersey on that site listed above! That thing’s now a collector’s item.

  29. CWalton_67 says:

    DK–Crosby is the most important issue on the Pittsburgh sports scene now and until his actual condition and ability to play is resolved. Devoutly hoping you are going to take on the issue and get some facts.

  30. twentytwo22 says:

    So you don’t like a hockey game because it shows the primal aspects that makes it the best spectator sport and then engage in bully tactics to get them to change up. I guess when thuggery works for you you have no problem with it. The Islanders need to offer a DVD of every 82 game played last season and then display the sales figures on their website as a middle finger to anyone who had a problem with it in the first place.

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